An interesting realisation
I had an interesting realisation this week.
It happened while I was at a shopping centre with some friends. I don’t believe in shopping, and so while my friends were (genuinely) browsing handbags, I sat in a cafe to do some writing for upcoming projects.
I managed a few solid hours of work, but thanks to the copious amounts of coffee I’d consumed, I needed a session in the little boys’ room afterwards. As I sat down to do my business, I felt a general undercurrent of dissatisfaction:
urgh I didn’t manage to do enough writing today, I could’ve done more
I didn’t give this feeling a second thought, because this is my default state. I often over-promise to myself and under-deliver, and therefore in the evenings I almost always feel a sense of “I wasn’t productive enough today”. This feeling has become so normal that I often don’t even realise it’s there.
But as I turned on my phone and opened up Instapaper to browse some blog posts that I’d saved earlier, I came across one by Neel Nanda called Your Standards are Too High.
It opens with the following:
I’m a perfectionist, and a pretty neurotic person, so a common experience for me is feeling dissatisfied and guilty. Some part of me is deeply convinced that everything should be easy, and fast. That if it’s not, I am failing. That I could have done better.
Damn. That’s exactly me too. And I’m sure it’s a lot of you reading this.
Reading through Neel’s post made me realise (a) that my default state seems to be dissatisfaction-with-how-much-I-did-that-day and (b) that this doesn’t have to be the case.
I realised that I’d been looking at my work for those past few hours with a lens of not-good-enough. And that I could simply choose to change the lens, to change the story I was telling myself. I could choose to feel satisfied with what I’d done.
And so having realised this, for the rest of the day I had more of a spring in my step because I chose to think ‘you know what, that was a good day’s work, you’ve done well Ali’.
At the end of the day, the amount of work done didn’t change. But how I felt about it did. And that’s an idea worth sharing, as they say.
Have a great week!
My Favourite Things This Week
1 – Short audiobook – I absolutely loved “The Original”, a short audiobook / audio drama / audio programme by Brandon Sanderson and Mary Kowal. It’s an audiobook, but with background music and sound design. And it was amazing. I did a lot of driving this weekend and it made the journeys incredibly entertaining. Here’s a 10 minute preview of chapter 1 (https://youtu.be/DjJDrjl-G4c) that you should check out. Especially if you’re new to Audiobooks, this one’s a great place to start. (And if you sign up to a free trial of Audible with this link, I’ll make a few dollars and you can download the audiobook for free hehe)
2 – Another audiobook – As you know, I love audiobooks. I thought I’d have a bit of change of vibe and started listening to Mythos by Stephen Fry. I’m a couple of hours into it and it’s pretty great so far.
3 – Tech – I’ve been trying out the Keychron K2 mechanical keyboard for the past 2 weeks. It’s a solid budget alternative to my usual keyboard (the IQUnix F96), and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I like the feel of red switches compared to the blue ones I’m used to.
Quote of the Week
The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Resurfaced using Readwise.
Tweet of the Week
solid summary of my spiel – this stuff is going to be part of a course I’m working on 😉 https://t.co/pwsM01lULz
— Ali Abdaal (@AliAbdaal) September 23, 2020